HHS: You’re keeping yourself quite busy, you have a mixshow in 4 major markets and host your own show on Eminem’s Sirius Satellite station, how do you manage to balance everything and still find the time to work on your own projects?
C.Sparks: I would attribute it to little sleep, time management and having good people around you who believe in your vision and share the same work ethic.
HHS: Speaking of your gig on Em’s Sirius station how did that deal come about? You’ve know Em for quite sometime now no?
C.Sparks: Before Interscope, Aftermath and Dr. Dre, when Eminem was on the underground scene, he and his manager (Paul Rosenberg) came to my home studio where I was broadcasting an internet radio show, and I just maintained a good relationship with Paul and Em. So when they started Shade 45, Paul reached out and told me that he wanted me to be involved. Now we have Smashtime radio every Wednesday live from NYC 8PM-12AM eastern standard time.
HHS: What’s your take on the difference between DJ’s of the past to the DJ of today, would you agree that there are a few individuals merely collecting and assembling freestyles and tracks and calling themselves DJ’s? What does the term “DJ” mean to you?
C.Sparks: Yes, I think there are a lot of people putting DJ in front of there name that have no business doing so, but who am I to condemn somebody’s hustle? People nowadays just want the new hot shit regardless of how it’s presented, where somebody like me will present music differently than someone else. At the end of the day people just want the hot shit! The term DJ to me means creativity, talent, skill, timing and knowing how to rock a party or make an artists show better.
HHS: Would you agree that the rapid ascension of mixtapes and how quickly artists are able to flood the streets with them has decreased the amount of Major/Indy label mixtape projects that we’ve seen in the past? We don’t see the Funkmaster Flex, Kay Slay, Enuff and Tony Touch projects dropping like they did 3-4 years ago.
C.Sparks: Not really, because its coming full-circle again. My man Kay slay is about to drop his third album in May, Green Lantern is dropping an album, I got an album dropping; one on March 22nd & another in the fall on Koch records.
HHS: With that said, do you feel your debut, Maybe You Been Brainwashed, fits more into the classic mixtape of the past?
C.Sparks: I am producing my entire albums exclusively, so that would be one major difference, as far as a classic mixtape? That would be for the people to determine once it drops.
HHS: How did you go about picking and choosing the artists that appear on Maybe You Been Brainwashed, as you have assembled a slew of major names (P. Diddy, Mobb Deep, Lil Flip, Busta Rhymes, Fabolous, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Clipse).
C.Sparks: It was really about whoever I would run into, or who I would get vocals from. Some of the artist I have relationships with so I would just need to make a phone call. Realistically speaking, if a guy who is on a gang of radio stations and constantly supports your projects, out of respect, it would only make sense to return the favor by at least doing a record. And there are a lot of artist who I have heavily supported on all my stations.
HHS: The tracklisting is very diverse on Maybe You Been Brainwashed, did you pay special attention to ensuring you were creating a project that included artists from every region, or did it just end up as such?
C.Sparks: I definitely am aware of the different regions doing radio shows in multiple markets, so I have to be conscience of what I’m playing on radio so that I do not alienate anyone. Same goes for the clubs. I might do a classy upscale club in Toronto, to a young crowd in Hong Kong, to a grimy thugged out club in Boston; so you have to be attentive to your crowd. Creating an album is similar. You want cats from all over to feel what you’re about and even more so let them know you feel what they’re about.
HHS: You also just hosted the recent Clipse (We Got It For Cheap) and Miri Ben-Ari mixtapes and they appear on your mixtape, so there is obviously a mutual respect there, what is it like working with Clipse?
C.Sparks: Pusha & Malice are real cool dudes. They got on a record I produced a couple years back and we’ve just maintained a good relationship ever since. I was one of the 1st DJs to really go strong on their records. Miri Ben-Ari was a guest on my Shade 45 show, we just hit it off and on the air I said we should do mixtape together and it just became official right then. She’s is very cool and down to earth, if you haven’t seen her perform live….. You need to GET FAMILIAR!
HHS: You recently inked a deal with Def Jam for their new ringtone endeavor, name branding and cross promotions is an important aspect in any artists’ development, but would you say it’s even more essential for a DJ?
C.Sparks: I think its imperative for anyone that’s trying to be successful. Even though I am mostly because I DJ, if you notice I don’t put “DJ” in front of my name because I am branding “Clinton Sparks,” anything that will distract you from that is not a good thing. I don’t want to be regarded as just that (“DJ”) because I do so much more.
HHS: In 2004, you took home radio’s highest honor, “DJ Of The Year” and were awarded that at the recent Mixshow Power Summit in Puerto Rico, which had to be a very gratifying experience for you.
C.Sparks: Yes, it is always great when your peers acknowledge your efforts. I work so much and I stay in the studio so much that I’m not able to be out and about as much as Id like to be to hear people’s feedback on things I put out. So to be recognized for the work I put in is very gratifying.
HHS: Though you have previously produced tracks for O.D.B., State Property, Noreaga, Kweli and Memphis Bleek, Maybe You Been Brainwashed is the first project that really highlights you as a producer, how would you describe your style?
C.Sparks: I don’t know if I have a “style” per say that stands out, some people say when they hear a track I did they knew I did it but, I wouldn’t say I have a specific style. I just do whatever I’m feeling when I turn on the board.
HHS: How were you able to procure a verse from B.I.G on “I Like”? We also hear you have a few more B.I.G. verses stashed away as well?
C.Sparks: It’s ALL about relationships, that’s all I’ll say for now!!
HHS: In a recent interview you said Teddy Riley has had the most influence on your production, I found that somewhat surprising, what is it about his production that has influenced you so much?
C.Sparks: His creativity, its just good music! He’s one of those producers that can make you just love music. The keys, the drum kits, the vocal box. He is a genius!
HHS: What’s next for Clinton Sparks?
C.Sparks: Aside from the Maybe You Been Brainwashed Mixtape/LP, I am also working on my debut album Get Familiar Vol 1., which is due out this fall on Koch Records. I am also working with Jerry Bruckheimer’s production company on developing a new Hiphop television show. My company Mixunit.com is ready for re-launch in a couple of months and it will be revolutionary. I am developing scratchtones for Def Jam mobile which is manipulating records to say different things when your phone rings if your familiar with my mixtape “Intro’s” that’s what I’m talking about. I have an R&B group who write, produce, sing, and rap called XL. They are four 19-year old cats from Boston. Although my Smashtime radio program is on six stations, I am in negotiations to have it distributed by a major syndication company. Working on Bad Boy Reloaded PT II mixtape with Dirty Harry as well as Kill Yourself PT II with Kay Slay also the second installment to the Clipse mix-CD and everything in between—Smashtime blend CD’s etc. I’m working on continually making my other site smashwax.com the ultimate site for all your DJ needs & continually SMASHING down clubs. We have tours set up in the U.K., Asia, Australia, Canada as well as here in the states. Log onto clintonsparks.com & GET FAMILIAR!!!
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